The nearby fishing village of Little River is known for two things – how to catch and cook fresh local seafood, and how to throw one heck of a party. Those two worlds collide in the town's historic waterfront district for the 11th Annual Little River ShrimpFest.
Held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 10-11, along the famed Mineola Avenue waterfront, the Little River ShrimpFest honors one of the town's chief exports. Affectionately called “mud bugs” by the area fishermen who harvest them, local shrimp takes center stage at this two-day food festival. Other shrimp recipes will go head to head, but the big winners are the attendees who get to taste the delicious dishes at discounted prices for the cost of festival food tickets.
More than 20,000 patrons are expected to attend the annual fall festival, which features much more than shrimp. The main stage will host live music throughout the event, featuring a wide variety of musical genres. Unlike previous festivals that focused on jazz, this year's lineup has been expanded to include rock, pop, funk, country and more. This year's headliner is the Steppin' Stones, a popular rock trio from nearby Hilton Head Island, SC. Opening acts include A Nickel Bag of Funk, Nathan & The Zydeco ChaCha's, Alan Bibey and Common Ground, Dino's School of Rock and The Tim Clark Band, plus a long list of local music groups and dance troops that will perform on stage throughout the festival.
Hosted by the Little River Chamber of Commerce, ShrimpFest is also one of the biggest stops on the fall arts and crafts festival circuit. Featuring more than 150 tents and booths displaying the works of artists and wares of craftsmen draw large crowds to shop for one-of-a-kind items you won't find at the local malls and outlet stores. Shoppers can talk to the artists and craftsmen in person about their works, which include folk art, jewelry, glasswork; woodcarvings, paintings and a whole lot more. The vendor tents also include local community groups and civic organizations selling items and raffling off prizes as part of fund-raisers.
The Little River ShrimpFest also has lots of family friendly fun for parents and kids to enjoy together. Pony rides and a petting zoo are among the activities at the Kids Zone section of the festival grounds, where inflatable play equipment, face-painting stations, game booths, rock climbing walls and other child-oriented events. Roving entertainers, such as stilt-walkers, jugglers, mimes and magicians will perform kid-friendly shows that present excellent photo opportunities of your little ones having a big time. There are even food items available at booths that are popular with kids, like hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and ice cream. Oh, and of course, popcorn shrimp.
For those with more grown-up taste buds, the Little River ShrimpFest also provides the perfect opportunity to sample some of the town’s premiere oceanfront restaurants. Yes, you can get fried shrimp and shrimp po’-boys at the food booths, but there’s nothing like relaxing on the waterfront deck with a cold drink and some hot Calabash-style shrimp straight out of the fryer. Local bars and eateries will also hold their own special events like live music and dinner specials, and the party spills out into the streets all day and night. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sunday, Admission is $5 for ages 13 and over and free for ages 12 and under. For more information, visit www.littleriverchamber.org.